Skip to main content

As part of my fifty state tour I thought I would reflect upon each state and some of the highlights I experienced. This will be chapter 1 in the fifty state series and I begin with Minnesota for no particular reason. Just kind of picked a state out of the proverbial hat.

First of all, Minnesota plays an important role in learning the geography of the USA. When I was in elementary school and we were expected to learn the location of each state I was given a mnemonic device to remember a few. Mimal is the name of the chef that lives right smack dab in the middle of the country. Minnesota gets the honor of being the chef’s hat.

And while the state motto is “L’etoile du Nord” it is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”.

I visited Minnesota in January of 2020. Yes, January. Most people thought I was crazy to take a road trip through the upper mid-west in January but I am undaunted by winter. Snow, ice, cold… they do not bother me. In fact, I prefer cool over hot which makes me the anomaly in my family. And cold it was. I mean COLD. I think it was single digits for the most part with wind to boot. I donned my sweatshirt, my big winter jacket, my hat, my scarf and took off into the streets to explore Minneapolis.

When I lived with my parents my mom and I used to love to watch old 50s and 60s TV shows. The Mary Tyler Moore show was one of our favorites. (No offense to Mary but I think Rhoda was our favorite) Naturally, the first thing I had to do was go by the house that was used for the façade in the show.

The Mary Tyler Moore House

Then of course it only logically followed that I went to pay respect to her likeness.

Mary Tyler Moore Statue in downtown Minneapolis

I continued my tour around the downtown which was clean and lively. Due to the cold and blustery winters many of the buildings are connected with glass passage ways that cross over the streets. You can walk from one building to the next to the next all connected by a labyrinth of passage ways.

I then made my way over to the “hip” part of town and got some lunch at a fun and eclectically decorated café.

One of many unique cafés in Minneapolis

While there, I got to chatting with the woman who worked at the counter and asked her for some advice on any must go to dinner spots. She highly recommended a restaurant called Young Joni owned by Ann Kim a 2017 James Beard Best Chef Midwest semifinalist and 2018 nominee. I quickly made a reservation which I was lucky to get. While there are several things to select from on the menu I was all in on the pizza. I am a snob when it comes to pizza having grown up in NY. I can attest that this was some darn good pizza! The atmosphere of the restaurant was so cozy and warm. I snuggled up to a seat at the bar and would have happily stayed all night.

The wood feature wall at Young Joni

Delicious eats being cooked up on display at Young Joni

Minneapolis has some great culture and the The Minneapolis Institute of Art is a pretty spectacular museum. I’ve been to the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA and the Guggenheim in NYC. I’ve been to the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Madrid. I’ve been to the The Art Institute of Chicago and the Belvedere in Vienna. I’ve visited dozens more museums and galleries in my travels and the museum in Minneapolis is up there in my book. One piece that truly took my breath away was a Japanese silkscreen.

One panel of several of a Japanese silk screen. It looks like it was painted!

Out of the museum I wandered around the banks of the Mississippi River. I was actually surprised to find that the Mississippi River was this far north. Of course the Mississippi River flows from Canada down to the Gulf but in my mind I always think of the south when I think of the Mississippi River. It was brutally cold walking across the foot bridge over the river but when in Rome. All around the banks of the river was a park with various foot bridges throughout. I could imagine how beautiful this area must be in the warmer weather.

Parks and foot bridges along the Mississippi River. Shown here is a side tributary. The main river is MUCH wider to the left

Trying to get in as many varied neighborhoods as possible I headed over to what I am calling the warehouse district. I don’t know if that is the actual name but it was very industrial with lots of lofts and brick buildings. I really liked the vibe there. It is a sort of old world meets new world. Peckish, I stopped in to a bagel café to warm up and fill my stomach.

The chic and minimalist seating area at Rise the bagel café

And of course after some carbs it is always a good idea to drink some alcohol. I headed over to Norsemen Distillery and continued the warming up with a selection of crafted spirits.

The bar at Norsemen Distillery. This is a GREAT place for a party!

Of course, all those carbs and all that booze required some penance. I wandered over to the Cathedral of Saint Paul to gawk in awe at the stunning architecture.

Cathedral of Saint Paul

Domed ceiling inside the Cathedral of Saint Paul

I really only just scratched the surface of what Minneapolis and her sister city Saint Paul have to offer. I’d love to go back in the warmer weather and see how the city comes to life. Plus, I’d like to explore more of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. All in all my visit to Minnesota was a great success and I look forward to visiting again one day.

Share this post